What if schools embraced (at least a bit more of) the unknown? Yes, and…

What if we structured (at least some) time in school to provide for the type of research that Uri Alon describes in his talk: “Why truly innovative science demands a leap into the unknown?”

What if we recognized and said “Yes, and…” to the likelihood that genuine and authentic research – the kind that stems from deep questioning and sustained curiosity – is most likely to lead learners (young and old) into the “Cloud” that Uri talks about?

What if we did more science – practiced more of being scientists – than just studying science in school?

What if we reverse engineered (at least part of) school and created margins and white space for the kind of exploration and discovery that bypasses the points A—>B path that we expect and embraces the unexpected “point C” that Uri shares with us?

What if we allowed time for learners to originate their journey(s) from projects of significant and profound interest to them and made it okay to reroute numerous times along the way?

What if we had at least two points of origin for the kinds of work we do in schools: 1) subject-area points of origin that later find projects, and 2) project points of origin that later find disciplinary avenues? What if we built schedules to allow for – and to encourage – both/and? And the weaving together of the two…. What if we widened the spectrum of school learning to more closely match with life learning (before and after school years)? How might we ignite more play, passion, and purpose in these ways?

What if we built capacity as faculty members and community partners to facilitate the type of relational way-finding that Uri declares is the nature of true, meaningful searches? What if we more significantly prioritized the guide-on-the-side postures by making room for the student learners to be the chief navigators of (a more significant amount of) their journeys?

What if you watched Uri’s talk and figured out ways that its corp might change the core of your classroom practices and school-day architecture?

Just for fun – Aparna Rao: Art that craves your attention

As I watched Aparna Rao: Art that craves your attention, I felt fairly overwhelmed with joy and wonder… and fun.

Over several years, I have somewhat trained myself to ask certain questions as I observe, too:

  1. Where would this “fit” in traditional education?
  2. How would learners be provided space and time to pursue work/play like this?
  3. What about this is consistent/inconsistent with how we have organized and concepted traditional schooling?
  4. What might we learn from this that could spur us to enhance learner experience in formalized school?
  5. What if “school” were more like this?



Learning is the constant. An intersection at #TEDx Blvd and #EduCon / #EduCon25 Drive

Do you really believe that all students can learn? At high levels?

Do you see learning as the constant… and time and support as the variables? Or do you still see time and support as relatively fixed, so learning must then vary? (Think As, Bs, Cs, Ds, Fs – learning variability in alphabetic symbols.)

Are you willing to rethink entire educational structures in order to facilitate high-level learning for ALL children?

Is all of the above worth at least a half hour of your time – if only to stretch your thinking about what’s possible?

Then, please watch these two TEDx talks.

Beyond the Book: Mary Esselman at TEDxSarasota [total time – 12:33]

Esselman explains her experience with blowing up the construct of age-grouping and re-imagining school such that students of current understanding are “grouped” regardless of their chronological age.


We must invest in research and development in education: Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic [total time – 14:24]

Shelton shows examples of modern one-on-one tutoring that make new learners as cognitively agile as veterans – even more so. And he makes a strong case that echoes recent words from Sir Ken Robinson – that schools should be asking students, “How are you smart?” not “How smart are you?”

The two talks above come from TEDx Talks Roundup: 4 Fascinating Talk about Education. The other two talks are well worth the views, too. A hat tip to @cannonball31 for passing the blog post to me.

Also, another hat tip to @GregBamford for helping me to think a bit deeper about educational structure (versus individual scapegoating) after I participated in his #EduCon session on organizational development – “Teaching Frameworks for Creative Collaboration.”

Monday morning ideation – imagining the future of schools and schools of the future #WhatIfWeekly

Three idea seeds from my weekend “studying”…

1. What if we developed “nutrition info” for our school courses? Looking at an egg crate this weekend, I wondered why we don’t have something like this for our courses in schools? How might we develop guides for the 7Cs that could accompany a course description and indicate to folks what’s actually in the content-and-skills meal that one’s about to partake in?

2. What if we understood capital-P PBL as futebol de salão? Reading Farnam Street, I learned about a game credited with developing the soft skills of young Brazilian soccer players.

This insanely fast, tightly compressed five-on-five version of the game— played on a field the size of a basketball court— creates 600 percent more touches, demands instant pattern recognition and, in the words of Emilio Miranda, a professor of soccer at the University of São Paulo, serves as Brazil’s “laboratory of improvisation.”

For students working on real-life problems in a curriculum more balanced toward challenges and contexts, instead of so content-centric, they could be developing such soft skills for problem finding and problem solving in comparable improvisation labs for applying their interrelated subjects of math, science, English, history, etc.

3. What if we devised ways for personal learning, like Susan Solomon describes medicine is developing personal drug treatments? Listening to the TED talk “Susan Solomon: The promise of research with stem cells.” I was struck by this part of the transcript:

But it isn’t really enough just to look atthe cells from a few people or a small group of people,because we have to step back.We’ve got to look at the big picture.Look around this room. We are all different,and a disease that I might have,if I had Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease,it probably would affect me differently than ifone of you had that disease,and if we both had Parkinson’s disease,and we took the same medication,but we had different genetic makeup,we probably would have a different result,and it could well be that a drug that worked wonderfullyfor me was actually ineffective for you,and similarly, it could be that a drug that is harmful for youis safe for me, and, you know, this seems totally obvious,but unfortunately it is not the waythat the pharmaceutical industry has been developing drugsbecause, until now, it hasn’t had the tools.

And so we need to move awayfrom this one-size-fits-all model.The way we’ve been developing drugs is essentiallylike going into a shoe store,no one asks you what size you are, orif you’re going dancing or hiking.They just say, “Well, you have feet, here are your shoes.”It doesn’t work with shoes, and our bodies aremany times more complicated than just our feet.So we really have to change this.

Too much of formalized education in schools seems targeted to the mean…or overly generalized, so that many experience something comparable to the shoe store that says, “Well, you have feet, here are your shoes.” With the advances in technology and brain research, how might we design personal learning, like Solomon describes designing personal drug treatment?